Political parties seem undecided right now over how to contest next year’s gubernatorial election in Tokyo, or even whether to field candidates at all.
Gov. Yuriko Koike is expected to run for a second four-year term. Her first term of office is set to end on July 30 next year, about a week after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics begin.
The Tokyo chapter of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has locked horns with Koike many times, including during debates within the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly. Koike defeated the official LDP candidate in the election on July 31, 2016.
The chapter now wants to ensure that it is represented by a candidate who can trounce Koike, and not risk a repeat humiliation.
At a meeting of senior officials on Friday, the group spoke of the need to find someone with a golden touch. “We hope to put up a candidate who can gain support from as many Tokyoites as possible,” Naoki Takashima, secretary-general of the Tokyo chapter, told reporters.
But not all within the LDP believe it is worth running against Koike. LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai wants her re-elected because of her satisfactory performance in office. “She has been steadily performing her duties as governor of the Japanese capital,” Nikai said at a news conference on July 30.
“It would be meaningless if we lose an election,” Nikai also told people close to him. “Would there be any candidate who can defeat Koike?”
Komeito, the coalition partner of the LDP, maintains good relations with Koike and handles issues individually as they come.
With the 2020 election falling days ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games, a senior Komeito official said it would be a bad idea to have the spectacle of the governor being driven from office.
Opposition parties have also been unable to agree on their approach.
In particular, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has deep-rooted grievances. The CDP was set up in October 2017 by members of the now-defunct Democratic Party, who were denied participation in the former Party of Hope — set up by Koike in September the same year.
The biggest opposition party, the CDP is considering fielding its own candidate against Koike in the 2020 Tokyo gubernatorial election. It fully expects her to run for re-election.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party for the People is waiting to see how the situation develops. “We have made no decision” regarding the 2020 election, a senior official at the second-biggest opposition party said. Those who worked with Koike at the Party of Hope are the mainstream of the DPP.
As for Koike herself, she is noncommittal about whether she will run at all. “Fulfilling various missions one by one is my biggest responsibility at present,” she told reporters on Friday.